Escalating the Anti-Iran Propaganda

Exclusive: The Israel Lobby canceled summer vacations for its operatives in a desperate bid to stop the Iran nuclear deal, and U.S. neoconservatives are committing all their “experts” to the fight to keep alive their hopes for war with Iran, such as alleged weapons specialist David Albright, as Jonathan Marshall explains.

By Jonathan Marshall

The United States and five other powers that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran based it on verification, not on trust. The media need to start applying to the same standard rather than trusting the often questionable claims of their favorite expert on nuclear proliferation, David Albright.

Albright, who is president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, has long been a loud and oft-quoted critic of Iran’s nuclear intentions. His latest salvo was his widely reported claim that Iran is engaging in suspicious activity at Parchin, a military facility in northern Iran, that “could be related” to “sanitization efforts” to defeat verification efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

David Albright, former weapons inspector and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security.

David Albright, former weapons inspector and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security.

Albright’s suspicions were buttressed by two anti-Iran-deal columnists who reported that the “U.S. intelligence community” was also studying recent photos of the site for possible evidence of clean-up work ahead of planned inspections. His claims were touted by the Washington Post’s right-wing blogger Jennifer Rubin as one more reason to reject the Iran nuclear deal. The Post’s neoconservative-leaning opinion page also gave Albright a column to repeat his assertions, and to ridicule as “mirthful” Iran’s denials.

But credible experts with much more serious credentials than Albright have undercut his latest report along with many of his earlier warnings about Iran’s nuclear plans. Needless to say, they have received much less media attention.

Albright’s Aug. 5 report, a mere one page of text along with three photos, began by describing Parchin as a facility “that is linked to past high explosive work on nuclear weapons.” That unqualified phrase should have concerned reporters right from the start.

Yes, there have been unproven claims that Iran tested non-nuclear high-explosive devices at Parchin, but they have been debunked by no less an authority than Robert Kelley, former director of the Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory and former director of the IAEA’s nuclear inspections in Iraq. Moreover, IAEA found nothing amiss during two unrestricted visits to Parchin in 2005, though Iran has rebuffed its requests for return visits.

Albright’s report then analyzed several recent satellite photos, which show something happening on the roofs of two buildings, several “possible oil spills,” and a couple of vehicles, possibly including a bulldozer. In contrast, a photo taken before the signing of the agreement showed “little activity” and no vehicles. In addition, two new structures “of unknown purpose” had been erected since May. All of this pointed, in Albright’s fevered imagination, to a “last ditch effort to try to ensure that no incriminating evidence will be found.”

He offered not a shred of evidence to link the mundane visual clues to his dramatic conclusion. One wonders if any reporters actually looked at his photo evidence critically.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, stated in response that the activities at Parchin were related to road construction. Opponents of the deal “have spread these lies before,” he added. “Their goal is to damage the agreement.”

In his Washington Post column, Albright twisted Zarif’s words to claim that he “chose to deny the visible evidence in commercial satellite imagery. Iran’s comments would be mirthful if the topic were not so serious.” Of course, Zarif was disputing not the imagery but the tendentious conclusions that Albright drew from it.

Albright’s conclusions were also disputed by Kelley, the American nuclear weapons scientist and inspector, who studied a much larger sample of satellite photos over the past five years and found no evidence of any unexplained activity. He also took issue with a subsequent Albright “imagery brief” calling suspicious attention to more than 20 cars parked between Parchin and a nearby dam.

“The ‘parking lot of death’ has been imaged dozens of times and there are clear patterns of passenger cars parked there,” Kelley told Bloomberg News. “There have been no indicators of a change in Iranian activities of any significance — no earth moving or sanitization whatsoever.”

Other experts also derided Albright’s overheated conclusions. “Parchin is an active site and movement is inevitable,” said Paul Ingram, executive director of the British American Security Information Council. “Attempting an impossible cleanup in full view of satellites and just before Congressional votes would be stretching conspiracy theories beyond breaking point.”

Who should one believe? Expert nuclear inspectors like Kelley, or Albright, who apparently has no advanced training as a nuclear engineer or photographic interpreter?

Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector and IAEA consultant, unloaded on Albright several years ago, saying he has “a track record of making half-baked analyses derived from questionable sources seem mainstream. He breathes false legitimacy into these factually challenged stories by cloaking himself in a résumé which is disingenuous in the extreme. Eventually, one must begin to question the motives of Albright and ISIS” (the unfortunate acronym of Albright’s organization).

Ritter cited example after example of Albright peddling misinformation: “On each occasion, Albright is fed sensitive information from a third party, and then packages it in a manner that is consumable by the media. The media, engrossed with Albright’s misleading résumé (“former U.N. weapons inspector,” “Doctor,” “physicist” and “nuclear expert”), give Albright a full hearing, during which time the particulars the third-party source wanted made public are broadcast or printed for all the world to see. More often than not, it turns out that the core of the story pushed by Albright is, in fact, wrong.”

Ritter concluded his blast, “It is high time the mainstream media began dealing with David Albright for what he is (a third-rate reporter and analyst), and what he isn’t (a former U.N. weapons inspector, doctor, nuclear physicist or nuclear expert). It is time for David Albright, the accidental inspector, to exit stage right. Issues pertaining to nuclear weapons and their potential proliferation are simply too serious to be handled by amateurs and dilettantes.”

Judging by the latest dust-up, Albright remains a media darling, able to garner headlines whenever he lobs new charges into the political battlefield. The issues at stake in the Iran nuclear deal, to echo Ritter, are simply too serious to be muddied by such irresponsible speculation. It’s high time the media began subjecting Albright, and all quoted experts, to more careful verification of their credentials and claims.

[For more on Albright and other fake experts on Iran’s nuclear program, see’s “Israel Clears the Bench in Iran Fight.”]

Jonathan Marshall is an independent researcher living in San Anselmo, California. Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; “Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Bluster”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; and Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.” ]

18 comments for “Escalating the Anti-Iran Propaganda

  1. Mike k
    August 14, 2015 at 11:10

    That Albright is a Zionist Jew and possible actual Dayan, agent of Israel is a big part of the story here. Leaving it out is like leaving out the Jewishness of the neocons who were so hung ho to have the U.S. Invade and destroy Iraq and Syria.

    It’s all for Greater Israel and Oded Yinon’s bloody plan.

  2. Joe Tedesky
    August 13, 2015 at 23:51

    David Albright, who’s he? Mary could come down from the heavens telling us to get ready for the second coming of Christ, and our news media would be broadcasting something “Donald”. Well at least these days they would. AIPAC commercials are bathroom breaks, but when it comes to everything Trump, we are all hears. God the guy is entertaining America. If he doesn’t get elected president, or something, he should get an Emmy for the show he’s putting on for us. Should we all look forward to our first Reality TV President? Will there be cameras rolling on Day One? Man, I hope so, and I hope he comes on right after ‘the View’.

    Here is the really good news. David Albright is getting news. At least he is here, and that’s maybe all we have. The good news is you are all hep to his game, now tell a friend what you know. You may make a difference. Now, do you know anyone at the New York Times. Bingo, write the Pope. Somewhere in this silliness I may have written something worth while, but I’m doing my best to make you all crack a smile.

  3. Mortimer
    August 13, 2015 at 17:52

    On Facebook, you may be a guinea pig and not know it.

    Stop, Look & Listen

  4. Abe
    August 13, 2015 at 15:52

    Opponents of the Iran deal, which was worked out between Iran and the UN Security Council plus Germany, with EU support, keep reciting the mantra of “a better deal” through “harsher sanctions.” Even last winter, Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker said, “I think imposing additional sanctions is the only way to bring Iran to the negotiating table in good faith.” But these ideas are of course unicorns, suitable for a fairytale hour on Fox News Channel but having no basis in reality.


    One tactic the US Treasury Department deployed against Iran was to have 30 of its institutions delisted from the international SWIFT bank exchange. It suddenly became very difficult for Iran to receive payment for its petroleum, and it was often reduced to convincing partners to use soft currencies or even resorting to barter. China and Russia, however, saw what the United States was able to accomplish. When Washington led an effort to sanction Russia itself over the Ukraine issue, Moscow began exploring the establishment of a new bank exchange outside SWIFT, just in case Washington ever attempted to pull an Iran on Russia. China, also alarmed, appears set to go ahead with its own alternative to SWIFT, although the project is not now as ambitious as it was at conception.

    Part of the problem for the United States is that the nominal gross domestic product of the BRICS nations together approaches $17 trillion this year, about equal to that of America itself. They have all been extremely uncomfortable with US sanctions on Iran, and some of them fear similar treatment should they have a falling out with Washington. They are developing alternative international institutions to those controlled by the United States, and are inviting Iran into them.

    Iran itself has also found ways around the severe US sanctions. Initially, the antipathy of Washington made it difficult for that country to find tankers to deliver its oil to China because maritime insurance dried up. Iran then just built or bought its own fleet of 40 super-tankers and insured them itself. The expertise it gained even allowed it to build four super-tankers for Venezuela for over a quarter of a billion dollars. It took time for Iran to respond to the US ability to deprive it of international shipping, but it is now independent of such considerations, so that trick won’t work for Washington again.

    In essence, US hegemony over certain key international institutions such as petroleum markets and the SWIFT exchange allowed it to subject Iran to an unprecedented sanctions regime since about 2012, harsher even than what went before. This set of tactics, however, was essentially single-use. In the service of pressuring Iran, the United States shot its wad. The BRICS are swinging into action to create alternatives. Iran and its trading partners have often found work-arounds. American strategists might well question whether it was worthwhile to squander US dominance in world financial institutions on the third-rate issue of Iran, instead of saving those tools for genuine threats to US security. In any case, all the talk by hawks on the Hill or the mob of candidates running for president on the Republican ticket that unilateral US sanctions can cow the Iranian leadership, or even that there are many arrows left in the depleted Treasury Department quiver, is mere hot air.

    Iran Hawks Think We Can Impose Harsher Sanctions on Iran
    By Juan Cole

  5. Mortimer
    August 13, 2015 at 14:55

    Orwell’s ministry of truth is no longer fiction. Our top institutions of higher learning have been offering phd studies in Behavioral Science. Grads being hired by governments, corporations, marketers/advertisers, all phases of media, intelligence, military, economists — all for the purpose of Directing our Thought/Pushing our Buttons… .

    Here’s a tiny sample (Google) of major universities this study… —– by the way, Google is a Major Player in the Thought Control game. (but, shhhhh, we aren’t supposed to know this)

    Behavioral Science Workshops | The University of Chicago …
    Booth School of Business
    Center for Decision Research … Behavioral Science Workshops. Invited guests, faculty, and students present current research in decision making and judgment …
    Center for Behavioral and Decision Research

    Carnegie Mellon University
    The Center for Behavioral and Decision Research (CBDR) provides a home for more … organizational behavior, public policy, political science, and psychology. The Center for Decision Research is devoted to the study of how individuals form judgments and make decisions. Researchers at the center examine the …

    The Center for Decision Research (CDR) | The University of Chicago
    Booth’s centers and initiatives are crucial for faculty research. … At the nexus of the burgeoning field of behavioral science, the Center for Decision Research …
    Institutes & Centers Search Results: Behavioral Science ……/search&channel=re...
    University of Chicago Institutes and Centers Search Results … You searched for “Behavioral Science”: Center for Decision Research · .

    Center for Decision Sciences
    Columbia University

    Decision Research Center –….
    The Decision Research Center is located in the Psychology Department on the campus of California State University, … Psychology is the science of behavior.

    D-CIDES: Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Sciences
    Duke University
    The Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Science catalyzes programs and research on the biological, social, and societal mechanisms of decision making. Its faculty and … Assistant Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.

  6. Abe
    August 13, 2015 at 14:45

    on whose behalf is AIPAC intervening in American domestic politics? […]

    The only logical possibility is that AIPAC is acting on behalf of the Likud government of Israel.

    And if it is doing that, it falls under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy repeatedly demanded that the American Zionist Council, the forerunner of AIPAC, so register. Former Senator J. William Fulbright made a case for it in 1988. The 2005 prosecution of two AIPAC employees for passing a classified Pentagon document to an Israeli official should have pitched the question again but did not.

    It matters because President Obama and Sec. John Kerry have repeatedly said that the likely alternative to the Iran deal is a war with Iran down the road. Such a war could well be the coup de grace for an already anemic American economy (wages have not recovered from 2008-9).

    Logically speaking, AIPAC is ipso facto lobbying our congressmen and women, who are supposed to be representing us Americans, on behalf of a foreign government, to reject peace and send our children to war. In my own view that is pretty despicable.

    President Obama is complaining about Israeli interference in US politics. But he has only himself to blame. As long as AIPAC is treated differently from other lobbies for a foreign state, and as long as Obama has his ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, veto UN Security Resolutions condemning Israel for its massive violations of international law in Gaza and the West Bank, this kind of interference will only mount.

    If It’s Going to Push Us to War, Is It Time for AIPAC to Register as a Foreign Agent?
    By Juan Cole

  7. Abe
    August 13, 2015 at 14:39

    something remarkable has taken place in American politics. The president of the United States has made a point of taking on the special relationship with Israel and the Israel lobby in his effort to defend the Iran deal, and supporters of the special relationship have struck back hard, accusing him of anti-Semitism. Elliott Abrams, Lee Smith and Tablet magazine for starters.

    What’s remarkable is that mainstream supporters of the deal have left the president to do this heavy lifting on his own. They have largely ignored his pointed comments: that the Democrats are under pressure from big donors to oppose the Iran Deal, that the same moneyed groups pushed the Iraq war, that it would be an abrogation of his constitutional duty if he sided with Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and that Netanyahu’s intervention in American politics is unprecedented.

    President Obama wants us to argue about the special relationship
    By Philip Weiss

  8. F. G. Sanford
    August 13, 2015 at 13:20

    It’s worth reading this article hand in hand with, “Cashing in on Counterterrorism” by Phil Giraldi at Giraldi describes at great length counterterrorism “expert” Steve Emerson, who “was perhaps the first prominent product of the proliferating expert witness phenomenon, all of whom testify for the prosecution in what has been sometimes dubbed “the guilty verdict industry””. These charlatans all employ some variation of a standard modus operandi. Their credentials seem impressive if not too closely examined, and they vehemently assert “facts” based on “evidence” which the lay public is incapable of critically evaluating. (I can recommend Giraldi’s work without reservation; many of his articles also appear at In the present article, another charlatan is described whose modus operandi also preys upon the shallow knowledge of the public at large. It seems perfectly plausible to the average reader that evidence of nuclear experimentation could be concealed or cleaned up. They never stop to think that the “evidence” they would have to hide has a radioactive signature with a half-life of, say, 46,000 years. The truth, unfortunately, doesn’t get much traction. It’s worth it to look at some of the screwball “news aggregator sites” now and then to see what the public actually swallows whole. There’s stuff like, “Jesus Resurrected, Actual Video Footage”. Or my all time favorite, “UFO formation Captured on Film”, accompanied by photos of constellation Cassiopeia. It’s the same strategy Bellingcat uses: ridiculous claims accompanied by grainy photos which “prove” the story is true. But our government lies about so much, it is now caught in its own trap: when it desperately wants to be believed, the “opposition” can accuse it of lying with impunity. Organizations like AIPAC and UANI can freely accuse The President and The State Department of lying…and they can point to a track record to “prove” it.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 14, 2015 at 00:05

      Are you suggesting that Video of Jesus Raising from the Dead isn’t real? Don’t tell my family that. I made them all watch it on Easter! See, we should have had our traditional egg hunt! Damn.

    • Abe
      August 15, 2015 at 17:25

      Because in the end, Jews in Israel will see the light and have their own traditional egg hunt!


  9. Mike
    August 13, 2015 at 11:49

    Israel’s plots unfold.

    Anyone who understand the deal know Benny is selling BS. No different the Bush’s WMD in Iraq. They are trying very hard to make this an us against them conflict and avoid the facts. Only snippets of misinformation.

    An NPT with Iran means NO NUKES EVER, if you told otherwise it’s a lie.

    It’s an old trick to scare everyone and raise patriotic furore to make people unthinkingly fall into line. This trick has been used since the beginning of civilization.

    Look at the deal, see that it is comprehensive and congressional votes should follow the facts. The ‘No’ vote only means;

    1) Senator in the pocket of the Israeli lobby,

    2) Confused as to which government they serve,

    3) lacks the intellectual capacity to understand the deal,

    4) Wants another war with Iran just like iraq and Afghanistan.

    Not congressional or presidential material.

    We know the US has been overrun by Israel spy’s. But this will be the first time with the right issue to learn how infiltrated the US is by the Zionists. If the US has no political integrity the world will laugh at the congress as the puppets of Israel. And voters will need to consider protecting their political system just as they would with communist infiltration. Once the vote is casts the ‘No’ they will be marked men and there will be a backlash by the silent majority.

  10. John
    August 13, 2015 at 09:18

    The MSM has a new name for the jewish settlers who illegally occupy parts of the West Bank. They are now called “jewish extremist”….The MSM are 50% correct, they are “jewish extremist” but the extremist live and do their dirty work in the USA. There hasn’t been a president since JFK who had the balls to confront them and we all know JFK bought the farm soon after……Cookies anyone ?

    • Abbybwood
      August 13, 2015 at 14:20

      Jimmy Carter confronted them big time with the book he wrote about Israeli apartheid against the Palestinians and he paid hell for doing it.

  11. alexander
    August 13, 2015 at 07:32

    Dear Mr Marshall,

    I am so disgusted with all this” fraud for war” going on…it seems like it has been going on for over a decade now….What do we need to do to make it stop?
    Why can’t information be simply factual, straight forward and honest?..
    Why are we relentlessly being deceived, duped and coerced into believing things that are not true?
    How evil and manipulative is that?..
    and Why is it ok?,
    Why is it tolerated by society?

    • Mortimer
      August 13, 2015 at 11:47

      >>>>>Why can’t information be simply factual, straight forward and honest?<<<<<


      • Mortimer
        August 13, 2015 at 15:43

        Facebook Manipulated 689,003 Users’ Emotions For Science

        On Facebook, you may be a guinea pig and not know it.

        Updated with statement from Facebook, from the author of the study, and from the editor of the academic journal that published the study.

        Facebook is the best human research lab ever. There’s no need to get experiment participants to sign pesky consent forms as they’ve already agreed to the site’s data use policy. A team of Facebook data scientists are constantly coming up with new ways to study human behavior through the social network. When the team releases papers about what it’s learned from us, we often learn surprising things about Facebook instead — such as the fact that it can keep track of the status updates we never actually post.
        Facebook has played around with manipulating people before — getting 60,000 to rock the vote in 2010 that theoretically wouldn’t have otherwise — but a recent study shows Facebook playing a whole new level of mind gamery with its guinea pigs users.

        As first noted by The New Scientist and Animal New York, Facebook’s data scientists manipulated the News Feeds of 689,003 users, removing either all of the positive posts or all of the negative posts to see how it affected their moods. If there was a week in January 2012 where you were only seeing photos of dead dogs or incredibly cute babies, you may have been part of the study. Now that the experiment is public, people’s mood about the study itself would best be described as “disturbed.”

        The researchers, led by data scientist Adam Kramer, found that emotions were contagious. “When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred,” according to the paper published by the Facebook research team in the PNAS. “These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”

        The experiment ran for a week — January 11–18, 2012 — during which the hundreds of thousands of Facebook users unknowingly participating may have felt either happier or more depressed than usual, as they saw either more of their friends posting ’15 Photos That Restore Our Faith In Humanity’ articles or despondent status updates about losing jobs, getting screwed over by X airline, and already failing to live up to New Year’s resolutions. “*Probably* nobody was driven to suicide,” tweeted one professor linking to the study, adding a “#jokingnotjoking” hashtag.

        The researchers — who may not have been thinking about the optics of a “Facebook emotionally manipulates users” study — jauntily note that the study undermines people who claim that looking at our friends’ good lives on Facebook makes us feel depressed. “The fact that people were more emotionally positive in response to positive emotion updates from their friends stands in contrast to theories that suggest viewing positive posts by friends on Facebook may somehow affect us negatively,” they write.

        They also note that when they took all of the emotional posts out of a person’s News Feed, that person became “less expressive,” i.e. wrote fewer status updates. So prepare to have Facebook curate your feed with the most emotional of your friends’ posts if they feel you’re not posting often enough.

        So is it okay for Facebook to play mind games with us for science? It’s a cool finding but manipulating unknowing users’ emotional states to get there puts Facebook’s big toe on that creepy line. Facebook’s data use policy — that I’m sure you’ve all read — says Facebookers’ information will be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement,” making all users potential experiment subjects. And users know that Facebook’s mysterious algorithms control what they see in their News Feed. But it may come as a surprise to users to see those two things combined like this. When universities conduct studies on people, they have to run them by an ethics board first to get approval — ethics boards that were created because scientists were getting too creepy in their experiments, getting subjects to think they were shocking someone to death in order to study obedience and letting men live with syphilis for study purposes. A 2012 profile of the Facebook data team noted, “Unlike academic social scientists, Facebook’s employees have a short path from an idea to an experiment on hundreds of millions of people.” (Update 6/30/14): Cornell University released a statement Monday morning saying its ethics board — which is supposed to approve any research on human subjects — passed on reviewing the study because the part involving actual humans was done by Facebook not by the Cornell researcher involved in the study. Though the academic researchers did help design the study — as noted when it was published — so this seems a bit disingenuous.

        In its initial response to the controversy around the study — a statement sent to me late Saturday night — Facebook doesn’t seem to really get what people are upset about, focusing on privacy and data use rather than the ethics of emotional manipulation and whether Facebook’s TOS lives up to the definition of “informed consent” usually required for academic studies like this. “This research was conducted for a single week in 2012 and none of the data used was associated with a specific person’s Facebook account,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “We do research to improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible. A big part of this is understanding how people respond to different types of content, whether it’s positive or negative in tone, news from friends, or information from pages they follow. We carefully consider what research we do and have a strong internal review process. There is no unnecessary collection of people’s data in connection with these research initiatives and all data is stored securely.”

        Ideally, Facebook would have a consent process for willing study participants: a box to check somewhere saying you’re okay with being subjected to the occasional random psychological experiment that Facebook’s data team cooks up in the name of science. As opposed to the commonplace psychological manipulation cooked up by advertisers trying to sell you stuff.

  12. Mark
    August 13, 2015 at 05:51

    The power of Israel lobbying the US government in conjunction with the Zionist propaganda machine has allowed Israel to wreak havoc on the Mid-East through it’s US Proxy as described in the link below. Without the propaganda, through pro-Zionist “US news outlets”, supporting Israel’s war crime agenda at Americas expense, it would be much more difficult if not impossible for Zionists to coerce, bribe, blackmail and control US politicians for the sake of Israel’s wars — and the world would be a more peaceful place today.

    “The Centerpiece of US Foreign Policy Struggle”
    The Conference of 52 Presidents of the Major American (sic) Jewish Organizations and the US-Iran Nuclear Agreement
    by James Petras / August 12th, 2015

    As the final conclusion of the article states:

    “The basic question for all Americans is whether we will act as an independent, sovereign country pursuing peace through diplomacy, as we currently see unfolding with Iran and Cuba, or a submissive military instrument, directed by Israel’s proxies hell-bent on destroying America for Israel.”

    • Tom
      August 14, 2015 at 15:00

      Americans have to take back their country, otherwise, they have done a greater damage to America. It is a super occupied territory. Stand firmly behind Obama, if we really care about America.

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